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Investigation into death of human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov dropped

The investigating judge of the Sverdlovsky District Court of Bishkek considered the complaint of a lawyer Aidar Sydykov against the State Penitentiary Service regarding termination of the investigation into the death of a human rights activist Azimzhan Askarov. Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan human rights organization reported.

The court decided not to reopen the investigation. The judge substantiates his decision by the fact that the appeal against the decision to drop the pre-trial proceedings was filed after the expiry of the appeal period on June 28, and the decision to terminate the pre-trial proceedings following Askarov’s death was received by lawyers on June 16.

Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan clarified that lawyers received a copy of the decision to terminate pre-trial proceedings on June 16, as well as two volumes of pre-trial proceedings materials. Thus, the deadlines were met. Since the last day for filing a complaint — June 26 fell on Saturday, that is, a non-working day, respectively, the last day for filing an application is June 28 — Monday.

Human rights activists believe that the judge exceeded his authority by rejecting their application. They will apply to the Commission of the Council of Judges. The decision itself will be appealed to a higher instance.

The UN Committee found that human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov was subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The Committee obliged the state party to take the necessary measures for his immediate release, cancellation of his criminal record, including full compensation for damage. The human rights activist filed a lawsuit, where he asked to indicate the measures taken on this decision.

In June, the Administrative Court terminated the proceedings on Azimzhan Askarov’s claim, justifying it by the fact that the dispute in this case did not arise from administrative-legal (public-law) relations between the government and the plaintiff.

Azimzhan Askarov died in hospital of the prison colony No. 47 on July 25, 2020. According to the conclusion of the medical examination, the death occurred as a result of acute respiratory failure.